Stur-ling response from Dan
Rodgers hails determination of Reds striker to start after derby sub role
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers' decision to drop Daniel Sturridge for the Merseyside derby has produced the desired response from the striker.
The England forward was left on the bench for the clash at Goodison Park as the Reds boss was not convinced, having watched him in training, about the 24-year-old's fitness after he played 90 minutes in the friendly defeat to Germany.
Sturridge ultimately proved his worth with his ninth league goal of the season – an 89th-minute equaliser in the 3-3 draw against their near-neighbours – and in a full week of training has since shown Rodgers determination to regain his place.
"I think that is what good players do," said the Reds manager. "Players will react differently. You will find some players, if they are not in the team, they just shrivel and die and have no fight.
"The top players, when they don't play, they show you every single day what they can do and that has been the case this week.
"He has certainly trained very hard this week. He has been really determined, strong and aggressive and he looks ready for the weekend.
"He has worked exceptionally well and when he does that, his quality is there for all to see.
"We have another day to go to prepare and see where all the players is at. I like to give every player the chance to show they can be in the team."
While questions may have been raised over Sturridge's fitness and attitude, no such accusations could be levelled at captain Steven Gerrard.
It is exactly 15 years since the 33-year-old made his first-team debut and having featured in all 12 Premier League matches so far, he is still going strong.
With Manchester United rival Ryan Giggs celebrating his 40th birthday this week and still able to make a significant contribution, Rodgers is confident Gerrard will be able to do the same.
"(They are) two players who have unquestionable quality and it is just really about fitness and at this moment in time with Stevie, his fitness is holding up very well," added Rodgers.
"He will be 34 at the end of this season and I look at his fitness and him playing and I think he is as fit as he's ever been. He is looking after himself.
"Of course, that player he was maybe 10 years ago, being dynamic and making those lung-bursting runs forward, goes out of your game.
"But as you have seen with Ryan Giggs, you adapt and change. Looking at Steven I think he can play as a number two centre-half later in his career.
"When you are playing against certain teams where they have got one up, I think he can play as a right-sided centre-half and build the game from behind.
"The way he passes the ball he is as good as anyone in the world, short and long. It is a possibility he could go on, but it will always be determined on fitness.
"For the senior players it (importance of recovery) is always the case. Your body is different to when you were 16-21 and it is really how you look after yourself.
"The players who go on and play late into their 30s, it is not what they are doing in these last couple of years, it is what they have been doing since they were 16; how they have been focused on their work, how their professionalism has allowed them to perform at that high level and that steely determination to succeed."
Rodgers added his own appreciation to the wave of plaudits received by Giggs this week.
"I've always looked at Ryan because he is the same age as me. He's 40 and playing and I'm 40 and sat here," said the Northern Irishman, whose own playing career was cut short at the age of 20 by a genetic knee condition.
"But he has been blessed genetically with a body which allows him to stay fit and play games and I think everyone in football has incredible admiration for him.
"To be playing at the top level of the game turning 40 – the dedication and commitment, the focus and hunger you need to do that is remarkable. I think everyone would applaud him for what he is doing and it looks like he could play on. He has been a wonderful player."